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1948
1920
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1949
1943
1964
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our Heritage

A Lasting Legacy

On March 29, 1903, Gustavus Swift passes away. He is remembered for revolutionizing the meat business from transporting to packaging, a pioneer who brought the farm-to-table concept to the masses.

1903
1903
1855
1855

Family First From The Start

At age 16, Gustavus Swift founds his meat-making business in Eastham, Massachusetts, with a little help from his family. His father advances him $20 for a heifer, with which Swift makes a $10 profit. Later, his uncle lends him $400 to start his business in earnest.

On The Right Track

Poor railcar conditions lead Gustavus Swift to butchering and packing meat before shipping. This, however, limits transportation to only the coldest winter months. So, he hires an engineer to build a ventilated car fit specifically for our products, thereby inventing the refrigerated railcar.

1878
1878

Honeymoon Period

Newly married, Gustavus and Annie Maria Swift open a small butcher shop and slaughterhouse in Sagamore, Massachusetts.The sale of live cattle takes off, becoming the primary focus of the business.

1862
1862

Set Sail

At the turn of the century, we open our first overseas shops in London, England, with the help of newly developed refrigerated boats.

Back home, by 1900 we have meat packing plants across the Midwest from Kansas City, MO, to St. Paul, MN.

1900
1900
1915
1915

Putting Workers First

Our 1915 ‘Safety First’ campaign cut plant accidents in half.

1924
1924

The Royal We

On behalf of the British Empire, the Prince of Wales visits Chicago to thank American meat producers for the vast quantities of meat sent to the British lines throughout the First World War. As a representative of the industry, Louis F. Swift, son of Gustavus, hosted the Prince and gave him a tour of the Chicago stockyards.

1964
1964

Let’s Be Frank

In the 1964 issue of Good Housekeeping, we introduce the world to Swift's Premium Franks, reminding our customers, "meats make the meal nourishing as well as wonderful."

1880
1880

Pork and Gravy Train

To capitalize on our company’s engineering feat, we purchase railcars from the Peninsular Car Company and convert them into refrigerated railcars, creating the Swift Railway Line (SRL).

1893
1893

Annie May Swift Hall

When Northwestern University decides to build a headquarters for their new School of Oratory, they turn to Gustavus Swift. His $12,500 donation came with the right to name the building, which he did in memory of his daughter, Annie May, a former Northwestern student who passed in 1889. The hall still stands today, one of the oldest on Northwestern’s campus.

1943
1943

Accounting For War, Again

Though World War II calls 20,300 men and women of the Swift organization to serve in the military and auxiliary services, we continue to operate at full capacity. Wartime demand is so high, our sales exceed $1.4 billion.